Powerbeats by Dr. Dre earphones

Dr. Dre Powerbeats review: 'Sports' headphones that are sturdy but sometimes uncomfortable

Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre
  • Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre
  • Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre
  • Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Good design and build quality
  • Clear sound quality
  • Good on-ear clamping force

Cons

  • Uncomfortable and stiff earpieces
  • Bass is a little weak

Bottom Line

Monster's Powerbeats by Dr. Dre sports earphones stick to your ears well and are sturdy enough to survive a few accidental drops - but we found them a little uncomfortable. The headphones' sound quality isn't quite worth the $229 asking price, though - it's a little weak on bass. Outside noise isn't blocked, but if you're exercising outdoors this is a good thing.

Would you buy this?

The Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre earphones are aimed at sportspeople and other active types (they are endorsed by the infamous basketballer LeBron James), and they do a good job of holding onto your ears when running or moving about quickly. They look good and are well built, but we found them a little uncomfortable when we tested them out.

Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre headphones: Design and comfort

The Powerbeats are over-the-ear earphones — they hang off the top of your ear with a rubber-padded hook, but their weight is evenly distributed and they don't ever feel heavy. Try as we might, we weren't able to shake them off — they even stayed on during a rather ill-advised handstand. The earphones themselves don't extend especially far into the wearer's ear canal, so there's no seal against outside noise. If you're exercising outside this is a good thing, since you can hear what's going on around you, but it does mean you'll need to turn your music up louder to compensate for ambient sounds.

Monster ships the Powerbeats by Dr. Dre with three sets of silicon ear-tips — small, medium and large. We would have liked to see a few spares included, since they're not expensive and the original set will probably get sweaty and disgusting quickly if you're exercising. The silicon ear-tips weren't as comfortable as we were hoping during exercise, and there were a few moments when we had to adjust the Powerbeats to keep them comfortable. The sturdy design is good for the headphones' longevity, but it means they are hard to adjust and some users might find them uncomfortable.

Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre headphones: Sound quality

The Powerbeats earphones are clear and have reasonably detailed sound. We don't think they're quite deserving of their $229 price tag, but they did a good job of representing the detail in our high-quality Apple Lossless test music. They're equally at home with iTunes-downloaded MP3 and AAC music files, which don't sound too harsh or too obviously lo-fi. Treble is forward without being fatiguing, and mid-range is strong without losing detail. Lower bass notes are largely missing, though — a side effect of the earphones' open design. The easiest way to boost bass in headphones is to seal them against outside noise, which isn't advisable if you're running on busy streets or playing sport. This does mean that the Powerbeats do occasionally sound a little flat when playing bass-heavy music — our Kanye West and Jay-Z could have done with a bit of extra kick.

The Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre headphones have an in-line microphone/volume control that also has a multipurpose button for answering calls or changing music tracks. We put it through its paces with an iPhone 4 on a couple of calls and plenty of music — it worked well but we did find the centre button a little hard to find occasionally, accidentally pressing a volume button instead.

Monster Powerbeats by Dr. Dre headphones: Conclusion

Monster's Powerbeats by Dr. Dre headphones are sturdy and have reasonably good sound quality. Some users might find them uncomfortable though, and they're a bit lacking on the bass we thought they'd be well endowed with. You can guarantee they'll stay on during even the most strenuous exercise, though.

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